Ballintubber’s position at the top of the pile within the county’s club scene was confirmed this afternoon at McHale Park when, for the second year in a row, they got the better of Castlebar Mitchels in the senior championship final to win the Moclair Cup for the second time in their history.
It was, no doubt, a very sweet win for Tony McGarry’s lads but for Mitchels the loss of a second county final on the trot to the same opposition must be hard to swallow, all the more so because this one was by the minimum margin with Ballintubber prevailing by 1-10 to 1-9.
I don’t think the weather down the west was as bad as what we had to face up here in the capital today and this probably helped to ensure that today’s county decider was of a higher quality than when the same two sides did battle for the Moclair Cup twelve months ago. Danny Kirby’s goal for Castlebar less than a minute after the throw-in no doubt also meant that this afternoon’s contest sparked into life in short order.
It took the defending champions a fair while to come to terms with the Mitchels in that opening half but a goal from Young Footballer of the Year Cillian O’Connor (what a weekend it’s been for him), which went in via a cruel deflection off Alan Feeney, cut Castlebar’s lead to a point. By half-time, Ballintubber were a point to the good.
No real daylight opened up between the sides in the second half, with Castlebar levelling before points from Alan Plunkett and Gary Dillon edged Ballintubber two ahead only for the evergreen Kevin Filan to square the game with two frees for Pat Holmes’ lads. Then Cillian O’Connor got two for Tubber which were cancelled out by Danny Kirby and Kevin Filan (another free) for the town side with just five minutes to go. Then with time running out substitute Damien McGing knocked over what proved to be the winning point for the defending champions.
In case you’re wondering, I wasn’t in McHale Park for today’s decider – the pictures accompanying this piece were taken by Mayo Mick (who, you’ll no doubt recall, is the current prediction mini-league champion) to whom I’m very grateful. If it’s a proper match report you want from someone who was there, here’s Colm Gannon’s account of the day’s proceedings for the Mayo Advertiser.
Ballintubber now go forward to the Connacht club championship where a fortnight from now they’ll face the Galway club champions in the provincial semi-final. That match is due to be played in McHale Park on November 6th with a 2.30pm throw-in, though I guess that’s assuming that either Corofin or Tuam Stars clinch the Galway title in the meantime.